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Zhuo Wang
,
M. T. Montgomery
, and
T. J. Dunkerton

Abstract

The formation of pre–Hurricane Felix (2007) in a tropical easterly wave is examined in a two-part study using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with a high-resolution nested grid configuration that permits the representation of cloud system processes. The simulation commences during the wave stage of the precursor African easterly-wave disturbance. Here the simulated and observed developments are compared, while in of the study various large-scale analyses, physical parameterizations, and initialization times are explored to document model sensitivities.

In this first part the authors focus on the wave/vortex morphology, its interaction with the adjacent intertropical convergence zone complex, and the vorticity balance in the neighborhood of the developing storm. Analysis of the model simulation points to a bottom-up development process within the wave critical layer and supports the three new hypotheses of tropical cyclone formation proposed recently by Dunkerton, Montgomery, and Wang. It is shown also that low-level convergence associated with the ITCZ helps to enhance the wave signal and extend the “wave pouch” from the jet level to the top of the atmospheric boundary layer. The region of a quasi-closed Lagrangian circulation within the wave pouch provides a focal point for diabatic merger of convective vortices and their vortical remnants. The wave pouch serves also to protect the moist air inside from dry air intrusion, providing a favorable environment for sustained deep convection. Consistent with the authors’ earlier findings, the tropical storm forms near the center of the wave pouch via system-scale convergence in the lower troposphere and vorticity aggregation. Components of the vorticity balance are shown to be scale dependent, with the immediate effects of cloud processes confined more closely to the storm center than the overturning Eliassen circulation induced by diabatic heating, the influence of which extends to larger radii.

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Zhuo Wang
,
M. T. Montgomery
, and
T. J. Dunkerton

Abstract

This is the second of a two-part study examining the simulated formation of Atlantic Hurricane Felix (2007) in a cloud-representing framework. Here several open issues are addressed concerning the formation of the storm’s warm core, the evolution and respective contribution of stratiform versus convective precipitation within the parent wave’s pouch, and the sensitivity of the development pathway reported in to different model physics options and initial conditions. All but one of the experiments include ice microphysics as represented by one of several parameterizations, and the partition of convective versus stratiform precipitation is accomplished using a standard numerical technique based on the high-resolution control experiment.

The transition to a warm-core tropical cyclone from an initially cold-core, lower tropospheric wave disturbance is analyzed first. As part of this transformation process, it is shown that deep moist convection is sustained near the pouch center. Both convective and stratiform precipitation rates increase with time. While stratiform precipitation occupies a larger area even at the tropical storm stage, deep moist convection makes a comparable contribution to the total rain rate at the pregenesis stage, and a larger contribution than stratiform processes at the storm stage. The convergence profile averaged near the pouch center is found to become dominantly convective with increasing deep moist convective activity there. Low-level convergence forced by interior diabatic heating plays a key role in forming and intensifying the near-surface closed circulation, while the midlevel convergence associated with stratiform precipitation helps to increase the midlevel circulation and thereby contributes to the formation and upward extension of a tropospheric-deep cyclonic vortex.

Sensitivity tests with different model physics options and initial conditions demonstrate a similar pregenesis evolution. These tests suggest that the genesis location of a tropical storm is largely controlled by the parent wave’s critical layer, whereas the genesis time and intensity of the protovortex depend on the details of the mesoscale organization, which is less predictable. Some implications of the findings are discussed.

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C-P. Chang
,
Zhuo Wang
,
Jianhua Ju
, and
Tim Li

Abstract

Several studies have reported that Indonesian rainfall is poorly correlated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events during the northern winter wet monsoon season. This work studies the relationship between the Niño-3 (5°S–5°N, 150°–90°W) sea surface temperature (SST) and the Maritime Continent monsoon rainfall during 1979–2002. The study indicates that the correlations are mostly negative except in the vicinity of Sumatra and Malay Peninsula (SMP, including the western sections of Java and Borneo), where the correlations range from zero to weakly positive.

The monsoon rainfall during ENSO events is influenced by a pair of anomalous Walker cells and a low-level closed circulation centered near the Philippines. East of SMP, the rainfall is negatively correlated with Niño-3 SST. The anomalous low-level wind over the Indian Ocean west of SMP causes rainfall to also be correlated negatively with Niño-3 SST, but rainfall over SMP is sheltered from this effect because of the high mountains along its western coast. The anomalous cross-equatorial flow associated with ENSO also affects the rainfall over SMP and the area to its east differently. A variation of the cross-equatorial flow may also contribute to the SMP rainfall anomaly.

The result suggests that the previously reported low correlations between Indonesian monsoon rainfall and ENSO are due in part to the averaging of rainfall in two regions with opposite characteristics. The correlation is positive for Indonesia west of 112°E and negative to the east. There is also an interdecadal trend of increasingly negative correlations from 1950–78 to 1979–97. The correlation changes from significantly positive (at 1%) to insignificant in western Indonesia and from insignificant to significantly negative in eastern Indonesia.

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Chuan-Chieh Chang
,
Zhuo Wang
,
John Walsh
, and
Patrick J. Stoll

Abstract

Polar lows (PLs) are intense maritime mesoscale cyclones that can pose hazards to coastal communities and marine operation in the Arctic. This study examines the impacts of sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) on PL activity in the subarctic North Atlantic. The 20 days following SSWs are characterized by tropospheric circulation anomalies resembling the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. PL activity decreases significantly over the Labrador Sea, which can be attributed to the infrequent occurrence of low static stability and strong environmental baroclinicity, as well as reduced surface turbulent heat fluxes. These results suggest that a skillful prediction of SSWs can improve the extended-range forecast of PL activity over the Labrador Sea. For the Nordic seas, the results imply that the spatial structure of an SSW event is important for the PL modulation through different tropospheric circulation patterns. Situations with increased PL frequency in the Nordic seas are characterized by SSWs centered close to northern Greenland occurring over a smaller area, and a tropospheric response featuring enhanced cold-air outbreaks over the Norwegian Sea. Conversely, PL activity is suppressed over the Nordic seas when the SSW favors the formation of a tropospheric anticyclone above Greenland and Scandinavia.

Significance Statement

This study investigates the relationships between polar lows (PLs) and sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) over the subarctic North Atlantic. A better understanding of the effect of SSWs on PL development has the potential to improve extended-range forecasts of PLs. It is shown that SSWs are responsible for the significantly suppressed regional PL activity over the Labrador Sea, suggesting that SSWs can serve as a predictor for the extended-range forecast of PLs over this region. Following SSW events, the thermodynamic state of atmosphere becomes more stable over the Labrador Sea and hinders the convective development of PLs. For the northern Nordic seas, the impacts of SSWs on PL activity are sensitive to the spatial structure of stratospheric warming.

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Chuan-Chieh Chang
,
Zhuo Wang
,
Mingfang Ting
, and
Zhao Ming

Abstract

The interannual variability of summertime subtropical stationary waves, the forcing mechanisms, and their connections to regional tropical cyclone (TC) variability are investigated in this study. Two indices are identified to characterize the interannual variability of subtropical stationary waves: the longitudinal displacement of the zonal wavenumber-1 component (WN1) and the intensity change of the zonal wavenumber-2 component (WN2). These two indices are strongly anticorrelated and offer simple metrics to depict the interannual variability of subtropical stationary waves. Furthermore, the longitudinal displacement of the WN1 is significantly correlated with the variability of TC activity over the North Pacific and North Atlantic, and its influences on regional TC activity can be explained by variations in vertical wind shear, tropospheric humidity, and the frequency of Rossby wave breaking. The subtropical stationary waves are strongly related to precipitation anomalies over different oceanic regions, implying the possible impacts of low-frequency climate modes. Semi-idealized experiments using the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2) show that the longitude of the WN1 is strongly modulated by ENSO, as well as SST anomalies over the Atlantic main development region and the central North Pacific. Further diagnosis using a baroclinic stationary wave model demonstrates the dominant role of diabatic heating in driving the interannual variability of stationary waves and confirms the impacts of different air–sea coupled modes on subtropical stationary waves. Overall, subtropical stationary waves provide a unified framework to understand the impacts of various forcing agents, such as ENSO, the Atlantic meridional mode, and extratropical Rossby wave breaking, on TC activity over the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

Open access
Zhuo Wang
,
Yujing Jiang
,
Hui Wan
,
Jun Yan
, and
Xuebin Zhang

Abstract

This paper improves an extreme-value-theory-based detection and attribution method and then applies it to four types of extreme temperatures, annual minimum daily minimum (TNn) and maximum (TXn) and annual maximum daily minimum (TNx) and maximum (TXx), using the HadEX2 observation and the CMIP5 multimodel simulation datasets of the period 1951–2010 at 17 subcontinent regions. The methodology is an analog of the fingerprinting method adapted to extremes using the generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution. The signals are estimated as the time-dependent location parameters of GEV distributions fitted to extremes simulated by multimodel ensembles under anthropogenic (ANT), natural (NAT), or combined anthropogenic and natural (ALL) external forcings. The observed extremes are modeled by GEV distributions whose location parameters incorporate the signals as covariates. A coordinate descent algorithm improves both computational efficiency and accuracy in comparison to the existing method, facilitating detection of multiple signals simultaneously. An overall goodness-of-fit test was performed at the regional level. The ANT signal was separated from the NAT signal in four to six regions. In these analyses, the waiting times of the 1951–55 20-yr return level in the 2006–10 climate for the temperature of the coldest night and day were found to have increased to over 20 yr; the corresponding waiting times for the warmest night and day were found to have dropped below 20 yr in a majority of the regions.

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Gan Zhang
,
Zhuo Wang
,
Melinda S. Peng
, and
Gudrun Magnusdottir

Abstract

This study investigates the characteristics of extratropical Rossby wave breaking (RWB) during the Atlantic hurricane season and its impacts on Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity. It was found that RWB perturbs the wind and moisture fields throughout the troposphere in the vicinity of a breaking wave. When RWB occurs more frequently over the North Atlantic, the Atlantic main development region (MDR) is subject to stronger vertical wind shear and reduced tropospheric moisture; the basinwide TC counts are reduced, and TCs are generally less intense, have a shorter lifetime, and are less likely to make landfalls. A significant negative correlation was found between Atlantic TC activity and RWB occurrence during 1979–2013. The correlation is comparable to that with the MDR SST index and stronger than that with the Niño-3.4 index. Further analyses suggest that the variability of RWB occurrence in the western Atlantic is largely independent of that in the eastern Atlantic. The RWB occurrence in the western basin is more closely tied to the environmental variability of the tropical North Atlantic and is more likely to hinder TC intensification or reduce the TC lifetime because of its proximity to the central portion of TC tracks. Consequently, the basinwide TC counts and the accumulated cyclone energy have a strong correlation with western-basin RWB occurrence but only a moderate correlation with eastern-basin RWB occurrence. The results highlight the extratropical impacts on Atlantic TC activity and regional climate via RWB and provide new insights into the variability and predictability of TC activity.

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C-P. Chang
,
Zhuo Wang
,
John McBride
, and
Ching-Hwang Liu

Abstract

In general, the Bay of Bengal, Indochina Peninsula, and Philippines are in the Asian summer monsoon regime while the Maritime Continent experiences a wet monsoon during boreal winter and a dry season during boreal summer. However, the complex distribution of land, sea, and terrain results in significant local variations of the annual cycle. This work uses historical station rainfall data to classify the annual cycles of rainfall over land areas, the TRMM rainfall measurements to identify the monsoon regimes of the four seasons in all of Southeast Asia, and the QuikSCAT winds to study the causes of the variations.

The annual cycle is dominated largely by interactions between the complex terrain and a simple annual reversal of the surface monsoonal winds throughout all monsoon regions from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and the equatorial western Pacific. The semiannual cycle is comparable in magnitude to the annual cycle over parts of the equatorial landmasses, but only a very small region reflects the twice-yearly crossing of the sun. Most of the semiannual cycle appears to be due to the influence of both the summer and the winter monsoon in the western part of the Maritime Continent where the annual cycle maximum occurs in fall. Analysis of the TRMM data reveals a structure whereby the boreal summer and winter monsoon rainfall regimes intertwine across the equator and both are strongly affected by the wind–terrain interaction. In particular, the boreal winter regime extends far northward along the eastern flanks of the major island groups and landmasses.

A hypothesis is presented to explain the asymmetric seasonal march in which the maximum convection follows a gradual southeastward progression path from the Asian summer monsoon to the Asian winter monsoon but experiences a sudden transition in the reverse. The hypothesis is based on the redistribution of mass between land and ocean areas during spring and fall that results from different land–ocean thermal memories. This mass redistribution between the two transition seasons produces sea level patterns leading to asymmetric wind–terrain interactions throughout the region, and a low-level divergence asymmetry in the region that promotes the southward march of maximum convection during boreal fall but opposes the northward march during boreal spring.

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Han Li
,
Ziyu Yan
,
Melinda Peng
,
Xuyang Ge
, and
Zhuo Wang

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TCs) accompanied by an upper-tropospheric cold low (CL) can experience unusual tracks. Idealized simulations resembling observed scenarios are designed in this study to investigate the impacts of a CL on TC tracks. The sensitivity of the TC motion to its location relative to the CL is examined. The results show that a TC follows a counterclockwise semicircle track if initially located east of a CL, while a TC experiences a small southward-looping track, followed by a sudden northward turn if initially located west of a CL. A TC on the west side experiences opposing CL and β steering, while they act in the same direction when a TC is on the east side of CL. The steering flow analyses show that the steering vector is dominated by upper-level flow induced by the CL at an early stage. The influence of CL extends downward and contributes to the lower-tropospheric asymmetric flow pattern of TC. As these two systems approach, the TC divergent outflow erodes the CL. The CL circulation is deformed and eventually merged with the TC when they are close. Since the erosion of CL, the TC motion is primarily related to β gyres at a later stage. The sensitivity of TC motion to the CL depth is also examined. TCs located west of a CL experience a westward track if the CL is shallow. In contrast, TCs initially located east of a CL all take a smooth track irrespective of the CL depth, and the CL depth mainly influences the track curvature and the TC translation speed.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to better understand how an upper-tropospheric cold low affects the motion of a nearby tropical cyclone. Our findings highlight distinct track patterns based on the relative positions of the tropical cyclone and the cold low. When the tropical cyclone is located on the east side of a cold low, a mutual rotation occurs, leading to a counterclockwise semicircle track of tropical cyclone. Conversely, if the tropical cyclone is located to the west side of a cold low, the cold low approaches and captures it, resulting in an abrupt northward turn when the cold low is eroded by the tropical cyclone. These insights improve the predictability of tropical cyclones in the vicinity of cold lows.

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Mingshi Yang
,
Zhuo Wang
,
Robert M. Rauber
, and
John E. Walsh

Abstract

Arctic cyclones (ACs) are an important component of the Arctic climate system. While previous studies focused on case studies or samples of intense ACs, an AC tracking algorithm is applied here to ERA5 to provide more than 9300 tracks. This large sample enables evaluations of seasonality, latitudinal dependence, and the structural evolution of ACs using storm-centered composite analysis and phase space analysis. The structures of ACs of different genesis regions, polar versus midlatitude, are also examined and compared. The results show that ACs typically have an asymmetric horizontal structure with cold air to the west and warm air to the east of the cyclone center. Cyclone asymmetry decreases, and the circulation becomes more barotropic in higher latitudes. ACs of polar origin are more symmetric than ACs of midlatitude origin and dominate the cyclone occurrences over the Arctic Ocean. Regarding seasonality, winter ACs are more intense and have a stronger horizontal asymmetry, and the cyclonic circulation extends higher into the stratosphere than summer ACs. In contrast, summer ACs have stronger warm anomalies in the lower stratosphere associated with subsidence above the cyclone center, and the cyclonic circulation typically does not extend beyond 50 hPa. The latitudinal and seasonal variations of AC structure are consistent with the latitudinal and seasonal differences in environmental baroclinicity. Additionally, our analyses show that the structural evolution of ACs is characterized by reduced vertical tilt and asymmetry, weakened temperature contrast between west and east sectors in troposphere, and reduced updraft strength in the later stage of the AC life cycle.

Significance Statement

Arctic cyclones play a crucial role in climate projections and risk assessments for Arctic infrastructure, transportation, and other human activities. This study aims to enhance our understanding of Arctic cyclone characteristics, including their origin, structure, seasonality, and evolution. We discovered that Arctic cyclones exhibit various structures in different environments. Their degrees of symmetry, vertical tilts, temperature contrasts, and updraft strengths vary with season, latitude, and life cycle stage.

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